About Mary Lou

Over the years on my spiritual journey, I have learned the power of my thoughts to create my reality. I feel a strong connection to the Divine and believe that there are many paths to God and enlightenment. All people and beliefs are worthy of respect until such time as they prove themselves otherwise.

As a Book Enchantress, I help people sort out what they want to write and why. And then I partner with them as they work through their first sloppy draft to a well-polished text that they can be proud of.

How did I get here?

As the middle of five girls who were followed by the only boy in the family, who died when less than a month old, I have many of the caretaker characteristics of a middle child. Added to that, my mother turned to alcohol for comfort after her only son died. As a child of an alcoholic, I quickly learned the lessons of

  1. Don’t talk
  2. Don’t trust
  3. Don’t feel

I became the observer in the corner. Helping others. Absorbing information. Learning all the rules. And obeying them as best I could – grammar, braille, parliamentary procedure. As a teacher of newly blind adults and veterans, I got good at evaluating how effective different books (and other materials) were at achieving the goal of sharing and teaching information.

I have been involved in the writing process for over thirty years – writing reports and articles, contributing to books, co-editing an updated instruction manual. While working on my master’s dissertation, I was quickly disillusioned of any sense of ownership of my words. It seemed like every time I gave it back to my advisor, she was changing things she had changed before. Working for different agencies, I found that “lack of ownership” of what I wrote was re-enforced.

After retiring from the Library of Congress, I started writing for myself instead of for others. I had no problems with this until it was time to share what I had written.

Butterflies appeared in my stomach that I hadn’t seen for years. I was no longer sharing an agency’s perspective but my own.

Recently I contributed a piece to a collection of writings that was scheduled to have a major launch. I found myself pushing the deadlines and almost backing out.

I observed comments others were making in our private Facebook group. My inner comparisons didn’t feel good. However, a couple of people in my life encouraged me to follow through. And I did.

The editors liked my piece making only minor changes. They coordinated the launch while I watched, doing my part, which was minimal. The launch was successful. The book reached #1 bestseller status in several categories on the first day. I was reminded of the value in working with a person who loves doing a launch (not my gift).

I have a whole new appreciation for the nerves my clients get when they start sharing – first, about their dreams of writing and publishing a book and later, the early drafts they have written.

Other parts of my life:

In addition to being an avid reader and editor, I love doing needlework. Currently my favorite project is knitting and crocheting for Julie’s Mission, a non-profit that makes keepsake items for babies in neonatal intensive care units in several hospitals.

And I have a great “white thumb”. There is nothing quite like kneading bread dough until it is “just right” for shaping into a tasty loaf of bread. The “green thumb” in the family belongs to my next younger sister.

My husband, Frank, is a retired clinical social worker. He was a preemie himself and has been legally blind since birth. Our two sons, Brian and Mark, have worked in the arts in the past. Mark still does. Brian is now a business coach.

I look forward to talking with you to discover ways we might partner on your next book.

Credentials:
B.S.Ed. – Washburn University, Topeka, KS 1967 (elementary ed)
M.S.Ed. – Normal State University, Normal, IL 1973 (special ed with visually impaired)
Training of Trainers Certificate, Elmira College, Elmira, NY 1987
Certified Braille Transcriber, Library of Congress, 1991
Certified Parliamentarian 2001, Teacher certification 2010
Distinguished Toastmaster, Toastmasters International 2004
Beaufort County Senior Leadership Program, Clemson University, 2006

Books:
Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing, Fourth Edition, 2000. Connie Risjord, John Wilkinson, Mary Lou Stark. The Library of Congress.
“Braille Transcribing in the United States: Past, Present, and Future” in Braille Into The Next Millennium. 2000. The Library of Congress.
“Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Poorly” in 365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul. Jodi Chapman, Dan Teck, et al. 2015. DaniLove Unlimited.

Author of the forthcoming book: 110 Tips: An Insider’s Guide to Creating a Book You Love